More than 300,000 Syrians are now registered as refugees or are awaiting refugee registration in neighboring Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, and Iraq, the U.N. High Commission for Refugees announced today.
This figure is triple the number of refugees registered just three months ago.
Speaking to reporters in Geneva, UNHCR spokesman Adrian Edwards used the moment to ask donors to help the UNHCR raise the $487.9 million they are seeking for a revised “Syria Regional Response Plan,” and said that estimates put the total number of refugees at more than 700,000 by the end of 2012.
Edwards said in a statement that with winter approaching in 10 weeks and many refugees still living in tents, the UNHCR is “in a race against time.”
“In Jordan, the average temperature between mid-November and mid-March is 2 degrees Celsius,” Edwards said. “A winterization plan is being developed, but it too requires support and funding.”
A growing number of Syrians are living in urban areas in their refuge countries, UNCHR said, putting stress on the local economies. Close to 81,000 Syrians are now registered in Lebanon. Only 35 percent of Syrian refugees living in Jordan are in the Za’tari camp, which has received over 30,000 people since it opened two months ago. The rest are living in urban areas. Over 4,000 Syrians registered in Iraq in the past week. A growing number of them are families, instead of just solo people escaping across the border.
The U.N. estimates that between 18,000 and 30,000 people have died in Syria since the violence began last year, and there are around 2 million internally displaced Syrians who also need aid.
On Monday, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad reportedly visited Aleppo, one of the cities hit the hardest by the violence, and ordered 30,000 more troops into battle, Syrian newspaper al-Diyar and Reuters reported. He said that Aleppo must be “cleansed.”
Assad ordered the 30,000 soldiers to “move from Hama to Aleppo and attack occupied areas of the Aleppo province near the Turkish border.”